The Power of Positive Thinking
By Emily Sharp
Athletic success begins in your mind
No matter how ripped your body is, the strength of your mind is your most powerful tool when it comes to athletic success. If your head's not in the game, the chances that you'll achieve your fitness goals are slim to none. Positive thinking can lead to improved performance, and several things can help you get your thoughts moving in the right direction.
Thoughts are translated into actions
When people think positively and imagine that their performance will be successful, they will be more likely to replicate those actions. The opposite is true as well. If thoughts are negative, it's likely that their performance will be negative, too.
Be aware of your inner dialogue
Be conscious of the language you use when you talk to yourself, because what you think affects what you do. Work at eliminating negative self statements. Try to have a one-track mind, focusing on only what you want to achieve. The conversation should be in the here and now, don’t think about the last time you failed, and try not to think too far ahead into the future.
This kind of positive self-talk might not happen instantly, but don't be discouraged. It takes time to train your mind to do things, just like it takes time to train your body in the weight room. It's a progressive process. You're teaching yourself a new skill, so be patient, stay with it, and give it an opportunity to be successful. (See: Top Tips for Simple and Healthy Living.)
Imagine and visualize
One way to train your thoughts toward the positive is to take some time out of your day to specifically focus on them. Jim Bauman, Ph.D., a sports psychologist at the Olympic Training Center in San Diego, California, suggests doing relaxing imagery work to get you in the right state of mind. Take 30 minutes, lie down and concentrate on relaxing your body from top to bottom. Think about relaxing every single muscle, one at a time. Once you're completely relaxed, you can try one of three positive imagery methods:
- External picture: Imagine you're watching a film of yourself. Focus on what you want to achieve and watch yourself do it.
- Internal picture: Go though the scenario with your own eyes as if you're doing it. You can control your actions and achieve your goals.
- Kinesthetic imagery: Focus on experiencing your thoughts physiologically. If you're lifting weights, feel your muscles burn and actually feel the resistance of the weight.
All three of these techniques will enable you to see yourself clearly and vividly within your mind. Imagine what you want to accomplish and envision successful performances. After you see what your positive thoughts can do, turn those thoughts into actions. Success is in the mind of the beholder.
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